Leaders must be open to input: deference defeats innovation in organizations

As Hoftede would tell you, certain countries have huge power distance. For example,  in all the orange shaded countries you don't argue  with the boss , the boss is always right and you show deference.

It was that in the US you could speak up to the boss but that has changed since the economy has slowed. No one wants to speak up lest it upset the company powers and you are axed the next time there is a personnel cut.

Ron Ashkenas recounts the incident of top officers of a company that remain silent when the CEO just glosses over slides of a strategy plan assumes that the managers had already seen those slides. No one speaks up and just goes on listening to the rest of the presentation. The whole meeting obviously now declines drastically in whatever value it was supposed to bring to the organization. And Ashkenas makes the point that if this happens on such a trivial matter like not having actually seen the slides what must be happening in bigger things.  On being unaware of the slides-perhaps each manager thought maybe the others had seen it and they did not want to appear foolish, or if the boss assumed that they knew maybe they missed something in the 80-100 emails a day and the best course was to follow the silence is golden while speech is silvery routine.

The biggest casualty for this kind of communication block is in innovation. People are just not able to develop the courage to voice the ideas for fear of being pulled down by colleagues and worse being shot down by the boss. And you can be sure that organizations that have this problem at the top – the situation is probably no better at the lower reaches of the organization chart. On the flip side, people are just not willing to argue the downside of ideas that bosses put forward.

And going by Hofstede's power distance theory and the enormous innovation that individual American employees are capable of , because they are highly individualistic, deference defeats innovation in US organizations.

So try to become much more accessible as a leader to your people and avoid both verbal and non-verbal cues that encourages others to "shut-up, "  both in offering new ideas and critiquing your ideas and thereby making them great. By doing so you will foster innovation.

%d bloggers like this: